School expansions big part of Lewiston’s capital budget plan

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LEWISTON — Need for room at Lewiston Middle School and the city’s elementary schools is pushing the capital budget for the city, staff said Tuesday.

City Administrator Ed Barrett presented a list of capital projects across the city to a joint meeting of the City Council, Planning Board and Finance Committee.

All told, the city’s Capital Improvement Program outlines $151 million in road and building construction, renovations and equipment purchases over the next five years.

It’s not a binding spending plan but a to-do list that staff will use to help prepare the fiscal year 2012-13 budget, Barrett said.

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“It’s not at all unusual for us to get into the budget process for you to start weighing priorities to have changes and adjustments to the plan made,” Barrett said.

A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, during the City Council’s regular meeting. Councilors are scheduled to vote on the plan at their Feb. 21 meeting.

It was the first time in two years that the School Department had participated in the capital plan, Barrett said.

The school’s new facility plan demonstrated the need for expansion at several schools, Superintendent Bill Webster said. The plan includes a $5.5 million expansion at McMahon Elementary School in 2014, building a new $17 million elementary school in 2017 and three phases of expansion at Lewiston Middle School.

The first phase, a $3.5 million project scheduled for 2013, would add fire sprinklers to the middle school building and bring it up to code. The second phase, calling for $5 million of work in 2014, would add four classrooms and renovate the entrance.

Webster said he did not have cost estimates for the third phase, which would add another four classrooms in 2015.

On the city side, projects scheduled for this year, the 2011-12 fiscal year, include an expanded property-demolition effort, work at the Lewiston Public Library and updated maps for the city’s Geographic Information System.

The plan calls for $1.1 million in road paving and $607,000 in road rehabilitation projects.

According to Barrett, the city has $161 million in outstanding debt as of Dec. 31, 2011. That includes $61.2 million for the city, $37.4 million for the schools and $37.4 million for Lewiston’s water, sewer and storm-water utilities, among other debt.

Debt payments, about $8.4 million in 2013, amount to about 12.4 percent of the city’s operating budget, he said.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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